Archive for the ‘Islamisation of Germany’ category

Germany: Infectious Diseases Spreading as Migrants Settle In

July 14, 2017

Germany: Infectious Diseases Spreading as Migrants Settle In, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, July 14, 2017

A new report by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal government’s central institution for monitoring and preventing diseases, confirms an across-the-board increase in disease since 2015, when Germany took in an unprecedented number of migrants.

Some doctors say the actual number of cases of tuberculosis is far higher than the official figures suggest and have accused the RKI of downplaying the threat in an effort to avoid fueling anti-immigration sentiments.

“Around 700,000 to 800,000 applications for asylum were submitted and 300,000 refugees have disappeared. Have they been checked? Do they come from the high-risk countries?” — Carsten Boos, orthopedic surgeon, interview with Focus magazine.

A failed asylum seeker from Yemen who was given sanctuary at a church in northern Germany to prevent him from being deported has potentially infected more than 50 German children with a highly contagious strain of tuberculosis.

The man, who was sheltered at a church in Bünsdorf between January and May 2017, was in frequent contact with the children, some as young as three, who were attending a day care center at the facility. He was admitted to a hospital in Rendsburg in June and subsequently diagnosed with tuberculosis — a disease which only recently has reentered the German consciousness.

Local health authorities say that in addition to the children, parents and teachers as well as parishioners are also being tested for the disease, which can develop months or even years after exposure. It remains unclear if the man received the required medical exams when he first arrived in Germany, or if he is one of the hundreds of thousands of migrants who have slipped through the cracks.

The tuberculosis scare has cast a renewed spotlight on the increased risk of infectious diseases in Germany since Chancellor Angela Merkel allowed in around two million migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

A new report by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI), the federal government’s central institution for monitoring and preventing diseases, confirms an across-the-board increase in disease since 2015, when Germany took in an unprecedented number of migrants.

The Infectious Disease Epidemiology Annual Report — which was published on July 12, 2017 and provides data on the status of more than 50 infectious diseases in Germany during 2016 — offers the first glimpse into the public health consequences of the massive influx of migrants in late 2015.

The report shows increased incidences in Germany of adenoviral conjunctivitis, botulism, chicken pox, cholera, cryptosporidiosis, dengue fever, echinococcosis, enterohemorrhagic E. coli, giardiasis, haemophilus influenza, Hantavirus, hepatitis, hemorrhagic fever, HIV/AIDS, leprosy, louse-borne relapsing fever, malaria, measles, meningococcal disease, meningoencephalitis, mumps, paratyphoid, rubella, shigellosis, syphilis, toxoplasmosis, trichinellosis, tuberculosis, tularemia, typhus and whooping cough.

Germany has — so far at least — escaped the worst-case scenario: most of the tropical and exotic diseases brought into the country by migrants have been contained; there have no mass outbreaks among the general population. More common diseases, however, many of which are directly or indirectly linked to mass migration, are on the rise, according to the report.

The incidence of Hepatitis B, for example, has increased by 300% during the last three years, according to the RKI. The number of reported cases in Germany was 3,006 in 2016, up from 755 cases in 2014. Most of the cases are said to involve unvaccinated migrants from Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The incidence of measles in Germany jumped by more than 450% between 2014 and 2015, while the number of cases of chicken pox, meningitis, mumps, rubella and whooping cough were also up. Migrants also accounted for at least 40% of the new cases of HIV/AIDS identified in Germany since 2015, according to a separate RKI report.

The RKI statistics may be just the tip of the iceberg. The number of reported cases of tuberculosis, for example, was 5,915 in 2016, up from 4,488 cases in 2014, an increase of more than 30% during that period. Some doctors, however, believe that the actual number of cases of tuberculosis is far higher and have accused the RKI of downplaying the threat in an effort to avoid fueling anti-immigration sentiments.

In an interview with Focus, Carsten Boos, an orthopedic surgeon, warned that German authorities have lost track of hundreds of thousands of migrants who may be infected. He added that 40% of all tuberculosis pathogens are multidrug-resistant and therefore inherently dangerous to the general population:

“When asylum seekers come from countries with a high risk for tuberculosis infections, the RKI, as the highest German body for infection protection, should not downplay the danger. Is a federal institute using political correctness to conceal the unpleasant reality?

“The media reports that in 2015, the federal police registered about 1.1 million refugees. Around 700,000 to 800,000 applications for asylum were submitted and 300,000 refugees have disappeared. Have they been checked? Do they come from the high risk countries?

“One has the impression that in the RKI the left hand does not know what the right one is doing.”

Joachim Gauck, then Germany’s president, speaks to doctors in the infirmary of a reception center for migrants on August 26, 2015 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf, Germany. (Photo by Jesco Denzel/Bundesregierung via Getty Images)

German newspapers have published a flurry of articles about the public health dimension of the migrant crisis. The articles often quote medical professionals with first-hand experience of treating migrants. Many admit that mass migration has increased the risk of infectious diseases in Germany. Headlines include:

Refugees Often Bring Unknown Diseases to the Host Country“; “Refugees Bring Rare Diseases to Berlin“; Refugees in Hesse: Return of Rare Diseases“; “Refugees Often Bring Unknown Diseases to Germany“; “Experts: Refugees Bring ‘Forgotten’ Diseases“; “Three Times More Hepatitis-B Cases in Bavaria“; “Cases of Tapeworm in Germany Increased by More than 30%“; “Infectious Disease: Refugees Bring Tuberculosis“; “Tuberculosis in Germany is on the Rise Again, Especially in the Big Cities: Caused by Migration and Poverty“; “Refugees Are Bringing Tuberculosis“; More Diseases in Germany: Tuberculosis is Back“; “Medical Practitioner Fears Tuberculosis Risk due to Refugee Wave“; “Significantly More Tuberculosis in Baden-Württemberg: Migrants often Affected“; “Expert: Refugee Policy to Blame for Measles Outbreak“; “Scabies on the Rise in North Rhine-Westphalia“; “Almost Forgotten Diseases Like Scabies Return to Bielefeld“; “Do You Come into Contact with Refugees? You Should Pay Attention“; and “Refugees: A Wide Range of Disorders.”

At the height of the migrant crisis in October 2015, Michael Melter, the chief physician at the University Hospital Regensburg, reported that migrants were arriving at his hospital with illnesses that are hardly ever seen in Germany. “Some of the ailments I have not seen for 20 or 25 years,” he said, “and many of my younger colleagues have actually never seen them.”

Marc Schreiner, director of international relations for the German Hospital Federation (Deutschen Krankenhausgesellschaft), echoed Melter’s concerns:

“In the clinics, it is becoming increasingly common to see patients with diseases that were considered to have been eradicated in Germany, such as scabies. These diseases must reliably be diagnosed, which is a challenge.”

Christoph Lange, a tuberculosis expert at the Research Center Borstel, said that German doctors were unfamiliar with many of the diseases imported by migrants: “It would be useful if tropical diseases and other diseases that are rare in our lives played a bigger role in the training of physicians.”

The German Society for Gastroenterology, Digestive and Metabolic Diseases recently held a five-day symposium in Hamburg to help medical practitioners diagnose diseases which are rarely seen in Germany. Those include:

  • Louse-borne relapsing fever (LBRF): During the past two years, at least 48 people in Germany were diagnosed with LBRF, a disease that was unheard of in the country before the migration crisis in 2015, according to the RKI report. The disease, which is transmitted by clothing lice, has been prevalent among migrants from East Africa who have been travelling for months to reach Germany on a single set of clothes. “We had all forgotten about LBRF,” said Hans Jäger, a Munich-based doctor. “It has a mortality rate of up to 40% if it is not recognized and not treated with antibiotics. The symptoms are like in malaria: fever, headache, skin rash.”
  • Lassa fever: In February 2016, a patient who had been infected in Togo, West Africa, was treated and died in Germany. After his death, a Lassa virus infection was confirmed in another person who had professional contact with the corpse of the deceased. The person was treated at an isolation facility and survived the disease. This was the first documented transmission of the Lassa virus in Germany.
  • Dengue fever: Nearly a thousand people were diagnosed with dengue fever, a mosquito-borne tropical disease, in Germany during 2016. This is up 25% from 2014, when 755 people were diagnosed with the disease.
  • Malaria: The number of people diagnosed with malaria jumped sharply in 2014 (1,007) and 2015 (1,063), but declined slightly in 2016 (970). Most of those affected contracted the disease in Africa, particularly from Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria and Togo.
  • Echinococcosis: Between 2014 and 2016, more than 200 people in Germany have been diagnosed with echinococcosis, a tapeworm infection. This represents in an increase of around 30%. Those affected contracted the disease in Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Greece, Kosovo, Iraq, Macedonia, Morocco, Syria and Turkey.
  • Diphtheria: Between 2014 and 2016, more than 30 people in Germany have been diagnosed with diphtheria. Those affected contracted the disease in Ethiopia, Eritrea, Libya, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
  • Scabies: Between 2013 and 2016, the number of people diagnosed with scabies in North Rhine-Westphalia jumped by nearly 3,000%.

Meanwhile, Germany currently is in the throes of a measles outbreak that health authorities have linked to immigration from Romania. Around 700 people in Germany have been diagnosed with measles during the first six months of 2017, compared with 323 cases in all of 2016, according to the Robert Koch Institute. The measles outbreak has spread to all of Germany’s 16 federal states except one, Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, a state with a very low migrant population.

The epicenter of the measles crisis is in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), Germany’s most populous state and also the state with the highest number of migrants. Nearly 500 people have been diagnosed with measles in NRW during the first six months of 2017; most of the cases have been reported in Duisburg and Essen, where a 37-year-old mother of three children died from the disease in May. Outbreaks of measles have also been reported in Berlin, Cologne, Dresden, Hamburg, Leipzig, Munich and Frankfurt, where a nine-month-old baby was diagnosed with the disease.

On June 1, 2017, the German Parliament approved a controversial new law that requires kindergartens to inform German authorities if parents fail to provide evidence that they have consulted a doctor about vaccinating their children. Parents who refuse to comply face a fine of €2,500 ($2,850). “We cannot be indifferent to the fact that people are still dying of measles,” saidGerman Health Minister Hermann Gröhe. “That’s why we are tightening up regulations on vaccination.”

Some say the new law does not go far enough; they are calling for vaccinations to be made compulsory for everyone in Germany. Others say the law goes too far and infringes on privacy protections guaranteed by the German constitution; they add that parents, not the government, should decide what is best for their children. The fallout from Chancellor Merkel’s open-door migration policy continues.

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: June 2017

July 11, 2017

A Month of Islam and Multiculturalism in Germany: June 2017, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, July 11, 2017

A 10-year-old girl from a former republic of the Soviet Union was raped by an asylum seeker from Ghana, but police and the local government allegedly suppressed information about the crime for more than two weeks.

A student sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl and punched another boy in the face, breaking his glasses. At least six other students have been beaten bloody. The school’s leadership has refused to discipline the child, apparently because of his migrant background, and instead has lashed out at the parents for demanding a safe environment for their children.

Police in Lübeck suspect that refugees are taking over illegal drug trade in the city.

June 1. A Syrian migrant was stabbed to death in Oldenburg by another Syrian because he was eating ice cream during Ramadan. The murder, which occurred in broad daylight in a busy pedestrian shopping area, was just the latest example of Islamic law, Sharia, being enforced on German streets.

June 2. Around one million non-Europeans living in Germany are now on welfare, an increase of 124% in just one year, according to new statistics from the Federal Employment Agency (Bundesagentur für Arbeit). The top welfare beneficiaries are from: Syria (509,696); Turkey (276,399); Iraq (110,529) and Afghanistan (65,443).

June 2. Police temporarily halted the annual Rock am Ring music festival in Nürburg because of a possible jihadist threat. Authorities asked the 90,000 visitors to leave the concert grounds in a “controlled and calm” manner. The move was based on “concrete leads which do not allow us to eliminate a possible terror threat,” the police said.

June 3. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann called on Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency to begin surveilling minors suspected of being involved with Islamist groups:

“I would strongly urge for the age limit for surveillance to be lowered throughout Germany. Minors have already committed serious acts of violence. Normally, the domestic intelligence agency in Bavaria would not place children under surveillance. But if there is concrete evidence that a 12-year-old is with an Islamist group, we have to be able to monitor them, too.”

June 4. Mostafa J., a 41-year-old asylum seeker from Afghanistan, stabbed to death a five-year-old Russian at a refugee shelter in Arnschwang. The Afghan, who had been arguing with the boy’s 47-year-old mother, was shot to death by police after a standoff. It later emerged that the man had a criminal history in Germany and should have been deported but was not. In October 2009, for example, a court in Munich sentenced Mostafa J. to six years in prison for arson. In July 2011, he received a deportation order, but in 2014 he fooled a judge into believing that he had converted to Christianity and would be killed if he were deported to Afghanistan.

June 5. A study conducted by the Hanns Seidel Foundation, a think tank affiliated with Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, found that half the asylum seekers in Bavaria subscribe to classic anti-Semitic views about Jewish power. Around 60% of Afghans, 53% of Iraqis and 52% of Syrians said Jews wield too much influence.

June 7. A 27-year-old migrant from Syria stabbed and killed a Red Cross mental health counselor in Saarbrücken. The attacker and the psychologist allegedly got into an argument during a therapy session at a counselling center for traumatized refugees.

June 9. A court in Cottbus sentenced a 32-year-old Chechen migrant named Rashid D. to 13 years in prison for slitting his wife’s throat and throwing her out of the second-floor window of their apartment. The couple’s five children now live in Chechnya with their grandparents. The man was charged with manslaughter rather than murder because, according to the court, the “honor killing” was done in the heat of passion: the man thought that his wife had been unfaithful.

June 12. A 44-year-old migrant from Syria named Sultan K. was arrested at his home in Bullenhausen on charges of being a member of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group. Police said that the man’s three brothers, Ahmed K. (51), Mustafa K. (41) and Abdullah K. (39), were also suspected of being members of al-Nusra. The arrest confirmed fears that jihadists posing as refugees have gained access to Germany.

June 12. Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann called on three German states — Berlin, Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia — to introduce random police spot checks. Local laws against “racial profiling” prohibit police in the three states from stopping and identifying individuals. Hermann called it a “blatant security gap that urgently needs to be closed.” He also said he wanted to see random checks extended in border areas, around airports, railway stations and rest-stops, as well as on highways that lead in and out of the country. At the moment, such checks are only allowed within 30 kilometers (20 miles) of German borders. Parliamentary spokesman Stephan Mayer said:

“The demand of Bavarian Interior Minister Joachim Herrmann to finally introduce so-called spot-checks in the states of Berlin, Bremen and North Rhine-Westphalia is completely and utterly justified. Given the basically open borders in Europe, random checks are a necessary instrument for preventing terrorists, criminals and illegal immigrants from entering the country.”

June 13. The newspaper, Bildposted on its website a film — “Chosen and Excluded: Jew Hatred in Europe” — that was censored by the Franco-German television outlet ARTE because it showed Islamic-animated anti-Semitism and Jew-hatred in all walks of European life. Julian Reichelt, Bild‘s online editor-in-chief, said:

“The TV documentary proves the rampant, in part socially acceptable Jew-hatred, for which there are only two words: disgusting and shameful. It is suspected that the documentary is not being shown on television because it is politically unsuitable and because the film shows an anti-Semitic worldview in wide parts of society that is disturbing. Our historical responsibility requires us to decisively counter the unspeakable truth that this film establishes.”

June 14. A 33-year-old migrant from Syria stabbed and seriously injured his ex-wife at a supermarket in Cologne. He also stabbed his 13-year-old son after the boy intervened to protect his mother.

June 15. A 21-year-old migrant from Nigeria went on a rampage after the manager of a public swimming pool in Rosenheim repeatedly told him that hygiene regulations prohibited him from swimming in his underwear. After police arrived, the Nigerian attacked an officer. He was arrested for refusing to obey a police officer.

June 16. Germany’s first “liberal mosque” opened in Berlin. The Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque, which holds its services inside the St. Johannis Church in the Moabit district, was founded by Seyran Ates, a women’s rights activist who has been hailed by some as the “champion of modern Islam.” The mosque allows men and women to pray together and the Koran to be interpreted “historically and critically.” The mosque, which is open to everyone, including Alawite and Sufi Muslims, as well as homosexuals, has caused outrage in the Muslim world. Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, generally considered the leading authority on Sunni Islam, issued a fatwa warning against “religious innovation that is not approved by Islamic Sharia.” Turkey’s religious affairs agency, Diyanet, said that the mosque’s practices “do not align with Islam’s fundamental resources, principles of worship, methodology or experience of more than 14 centuries, and are experiments aimed at nothing more than depraving and ruining religion.” Ates, the mosque’s female imam, is now under 24-hour police protection.

Seyran Ates, a women’s rights activist who has been hailed by some as the “champion of modern Islam,” recently opened Germany’s first “liberal mosque” in Berlin, and serves as its imam. Due to the outrage this caused in the Muslim world, Ates is now under 24-hour police protection. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

June 17. In Cologne, a peace march organized by German Muslim groups to condemn terrorism and violence in the name of Islam had an extremely low turnout. Organizers had expected at least 10,000 participants, but actual turnout was estimated at between several hundred to about 3,500. Germany’s largest Islamic association, the Turkish-Islamic Union (DITIB) refused to take part in the march because it would “send the wrong signal to suggest that Muslims were mainly responsible for international terrorism.”

June 18. The parents of student at the Kronwerk Gymnasium, a school in Rendsburg, have been ordered to appear in court because they refused to allow their child to visit a nearby mosque as part of a geography class. The parents, who are not religious, said they did not want their child to be exposed to “religious indoctrination.” No one could be compelled to enter a sacred building against his or her own free will, they argued. The school insisted that the visit to the mosque was compulsory: “The school is designed to promote the openness of young people to cultural and religious diversity, the desire for international understanding and peace.” Each parent was fined €150 ($175), which they refused to pay. They are now being sued. The mosque in question belongs to the Milli-Görüs movement (IGMG), one of Europe’s largest Islamist organizations. According to Germany’s BfV domestic intelligence agency, the movement is extremist and virulently anti-Semitic.

June 18. Local authorities in Hereford reportedly covered up information about the rape of a ten-year-old girl at a refugee shelter in the city. The girl, who is from a former republic of the Soviet Union, was raped by an asylum seeker from Ghana, but police and the local government allegedly suppressed information about the crime for more than two weeks.

June 18. Muslims in Freiburg launched an online petition demanding that the city prohibit male supervisors from working at a female-only swimming pool in the city. The petition says that Muslim women who want a “break from everyday gazes” are unable to use the pool. The petition adds that the “presence and supervision of male staff is deeply reactionary and sexist” and calls for the “creation of a dialogue to promote mutual understanding and acceptance.” Facility managers at the Lorettobad said that it hired male supervisors because of a shortage of female personnel. The pool has been rocked by disputes between Muslims and managers who have been trying to enforce hygiene regulations at the facility: Muslim women have been angered after being told that they are not allowed to wear jeans and other street clothing while swimming, and also that they cannot consume food while in the pool. Some Muslim women have also been told that they have “too little control over their offspring” and that their children are “too wild” and are disturbing other guests. Muslims have reacted with such aggression that police repeatedly have been called to restore order at the pool.

June 19. Jakob Augstein, a German newspaper editor well known for his anti-Israel tirades, wrote an essay for Der Spiegel in which he expressed glee that so few Muslims attended an anti-terrorism rally in Cologne. He said that those Muslims who did attend were “Uncle Toms” and excessively subservient to their German “overseers.” He wrote:

“Terror is not a question of civil society, but one of politics. What is more important, however, is that the demonstration call was addressed to the Muslims in Germany. This is an impertinence. What does the average German Muslim have to do with terrorism? Nothing.

“Just because terrorists justify their crimes with Islam, there is still no special obligation for people of the Muslim faith to distance themselves from these crimes. On the contrary, the terrorists would be given an honor that is not theirs: they are taken seriously as representatives of Islam. But they are not…. Terrorism is a political and social phenomenon, not a religious one. There are more than 1.5 billion Muslims in the world. Should all of them demonstrate? If I were a Muslim, I would refuse such requests.”

June 20. Police in 14 German states raided the homes of three dozen people accused of posting hateful comments on social media. Most of the raids were said to have involved “right-wing incitement” while two of the raids involved “left-wing agitators.” The head of the Federal Criminal Police (BKA) Holger Münch said: “Our free society must not allow a climate of fear, threats or criminal violence to be found either on the street or on the internet.” Critics say the crackdown is part of an effort to suppress criticism of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s open door migration policy ahead of federal elections set for September 24, 2017.

June 20. In an essay published by Süddeutsche Zeitung, Benjamin Idriz, an imam in Bavaria, called on the German government to provide language training for imams so that they can become the “driving force behind integration and dialogue” in Germany:

“The demand for imams from around 2,700 municipalities in Germany is usually supplied by imams from abroad. Many of them are thus directly connected with foreign religious authorities and under foreign influence. Imams from abroad also hardly have sufficient language and cultural competence. They are therefore not conducive to the integration of the Muslims, nor do they meet the needs of the Muslim communities, especially among the younger generation. The demand for imams is enormous, and too much time has already been lost. We must begin before we lose the next generation.”

June 21. The parents of more than 20 fifth-graders at the Herder-Gymnasium, a school in Charlottenburg district of Berlin, initiated a boycott of the school over accusations that the school was not dealing with discipline and violence in class. The problem revolves around one male student who has been bullying his classmates since he arrived at the school last fall. The student has sexually assaulted an 11-year-old girl and punched another boy in the face, breaking his glasses. At least six other students have been beaten bloody. “Our concern is that our children be protected,” a father said. The school’s leadership has refused to discipline the child, apparently because of his migrant background, and instead has lashed out at the parents for demanding a safe environment for their children: “We deeply regret the fact that because of a single populist exception among the parents such serious damage has been done to the reputation of our school.”

June 22. Aydan Özoğuz, Germany’s commissioner for immigration, refugees and integration, admitted that “there has been a shift in perceptions” and that only a quarter to a third of the so-called refugees in Germany will enter the labor market over the next five years, and “for many others we will need up to ten.” In an interview with the Financial Times, she said that many of the first Syrian refugees to arrive in Germany were doctors and engineers, but they were succeeded by “many, many more who lacked skills.” The Times, citing statistics from the Federal Employment Agency, revealed that only 6,500 refugees of the more than two million who have been allowed into Germany during the past two years are enrolled in work training programs. “We don’t take in refugees according to their skills set,” Özoğuz said. “The only criteria should be to help people fleeing war and political persecution.”

June 22. Police in Lübeck suspect that refugees are taking over illegal drug trade in Schleswig-Holstein, the northernmost state in Germany. Since May there have been more than a dozen mass brawls involving Afghans, Iraqis, Syrians and North Africans armed with knives and batons. Some of those involved are known drug traffickers. “The middle level of drug trafficking is targeting migrants in the refugee shelters, promoting them as street vendors or couriers,” said Christian Braunwarth, spokesman for the Lübeck public prosecutor’s office. “Unfortunately, the economically weaker parts of society are vulnerable to such offers.”

June 23. A 37-year-old migrant from Syria sexually assaulted a ten-year-old girl in Tübingen. The girl was riding her bicycle when the man ambushed her from behind. Passersby who heard the girl scream rushed to her aid. Police said the man was a “prior offender” and was known to them. A “southern-looking” (südländisches Erscheinungsbildsexually assaulted a 23-year-old woman in broad daylight in Voerde. A 17-year-old German-Turk raped a 17-year-old woman in Stuttgart.

June 24. An 18-year-old Syrian asylum seeker shouting Allahu Akbar injured four people with a metal chain at the central bus station in Lünen. The initial police report described the perpetrator only as “an 18-year-old” and failed to mention that he had dedicated his attack to Allah. Dortmund police provided more details only after being pressed by a local newspaper.

June 25. A police officer in Duisburg asked a man to move his car, which was illegally parked. The man refused and began shouting at the officer. Within minutes, more than 250 people appeared at the scene and began harassing the police officer, who called for backup. More than 50 policemen and 18 police vehicles were required to resolve what began as a routine traffic procedure.

June 25. Four Iraqi men sexually assaulted three girls, aged 13, 15 and 16, at a public swimming pool in Kassel. A 35-year-old migrant from Romania sexually assaulted two girls, aged 12 and 13, at a public swimming pool in Stuttgart. The man was questioned and released.

June 26. The Berlin Labor Court ordered the city-state of Berlin to pay €6,900 ($7,900) — the equivalent of two months’ pay — to a Muslim teacher whose job application at a grammar school was rejected because she wears a headscarf. Berlin’s Neutrality Law (Neutralitätsgesetz) prohibits teachers from wearing conspicuous religious symbols at state schools, but the Federal Constitutional Court (Bundesverfassungsgericht) has ruled that a general prohibition of Muslim headscarves is unconstitutional unless there is a concrete threat to security. In February, the National Labor Court of Berlin-Brandenburg awarded a Muslim woman compensation of almost €8,600 ($9,800) after her job application was rejected because she wore a headscarf. The judges ruled that it was a violation of the Equal Treatment Act (Gleichbehandlungsgesetz).

June 27. A “southern-looking” (südländisch aussehenden) man raped a woman at a park in downtown Cologne. Two “dark-skinned” men (dunkelhäutigen Männersexually assaulted a 52-year-old woman in Hüfingen.

June 28. A 23-year-old migrant from Iraq was arrested in Immenstaad on Lake Constance on charges of being a war criminal. After the man — who arrived in Germany as a refugee at the height of the migrant crisis in late 2015 — reportedly threatened to kill a roommate at a migrant shelter in Böblingen, police found three mobile phones in his room. One of the phones contained a picture of him posing alongside the decapitated heads of six jihadists from the Islamic State. The photo was created sometime between December 2013 and September 2015 when the man was an Iraqi soldier. The Attorney General’s office in Stuttgart said the man was guilty of “mocking the slain combatants and degrading them in their death” which “should be seen as a war crime…according to the criminal code (Völkerstrafgesetzbuch and Strafgesetzbuch).”

June 29. Mohammad Hussain Rashwani, a 38-year-old migrant from Syria tried to behead 64-year-old Ilona Fugmann at a beauty salon in Herzberg. Less than a year earlier, Fugmann had offered Rashwani a job as a hair stylist at her salon and German media praised him as an exemplar of successful integration. Fugmann and her husband Michael were said to have bestowed “infinite goodness and magnanimity” toward Rashwani. In the weeks leading up to the attack, however, Mohammad reportedly had found it difficult to subordinate himself to his female boss. “I am still convinced that it is 100% correct to help other people, but we have to admit that in this case our attempts at integration have failed,” Michael concluded.

June 30. The German Parliament approved a controversial law to fine social media networks up to €50 million euros ($57 million) if they fail to remove so-called hate speech. The Network Enforcement Act (Netzwerkdurchsetzungsgesetz, NetzDG), commonly referred to as the “Facebook law,” gives social media networks 24 hours to delete or block “obviously criminal offenses” (offenkundig strafbare Inhalte) and seven days to deal with less clear-cut cases. German Justice Minister Heiko Maas said the measure to “end the internet law of the jungle.” Critics say the law will restrict free speech because social media networks, fearing high penalties, will delete posts without checking whether they are within the legal limits and should actually remain online. Others say the real purpose of the law is to silence criticism of the government’s open door migration policy, as well as multiculturalism and the rise of Islam in Germany, ahead of the federal elections on September 24, 2017.

Germany’s Quest for ‘Liberal’ Islam

July 6, 2017

Germany’s Quest for ‘Liberal’ Islam, Gatestone InstituteVijeta Uniyal, July 6, 2017

(Please see also, President Trump’s Remarks to the People of Poland. — DM)

Recently, after dragging its feet for years, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany had agreed to call a march against Islamist terror. The Muslim organization boasted 10,000 registered participants for the “Not with us — Muslims and friends against violence and terror” rally, scheduled for June 17 in Cologne. On the much awaited day, only a few hundred people turned up, many of them ordinary Germans flanked by a huge media entourage. “Many Turkish weddings are larger than this demonstration,” wrote Robin Alexander, columnist in Die Welt.

Merkel and Germany’s establishment have their ground game covered ahead of the election, and know full well where their political interests lie. The question is, do the German voters know where their best interests lie?

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However, the media-driven PR campaign backfired as the news of the opening of the Berlin ‘liberal mosque’ reached Muslim communities in Germany and abroad. The liberal utopian dream quickly turned into an Islamist nightmare.

Why do Muslim organizations in Germany fail to mobilize within their communities and denounce Islamist terrorism? Because, if there really is a belief that “international terrorism should not be depicted as a problem belonging to Muslims alone” this view seems to indicate that, in general, Muslims do not see it as their problem.

The newly unveiled ‘liberal mosque’ in Berlin was supposed to showcase a ‘gentler’ Islam. An Islam that could be reformed and modernized while it emerges as the dominant demographic force in Europe. German public broadcaster Deutsche Welle touted the opening of the mosque as a “world event in the heart of Berlin.”

“Everyone is welcome at Berlin’s Ibn Rushd-Goethe Mosque,” Deutsche Welle wrote, announcing the grand opening last month. “Women and men shall pray together and preach together at the mosque, while the Koran is to be interpreted ‘historically and critically.'”

German reporters and press photographers, eager to give glowing coverage, thronged to witness the mosque’s opening on July 16 and easily outnumbered the handful of Muslim worshipers. Deutsche Welle reported: “fervent enthusiasm in the media and political realm.”

“For me there is no contradiction in being a Muslim and a feminist at the same time,” Seyran Ates, the mosque’s female imam told the German reporters.

“With Islam against Islamism,” wrote Germany’s leading weekly Der Spiegel. “Society in general will lionize [Imam Ates] as the long-awaited voice of Muslims that speaks clearly against Islamist terror,” prophesied another German weekly, Die Zeit.

The Washington Post, not to be outdone by German newspapers, hailed the mosque’s female founder Ates for “staging a feminist revolution of the Muslim faith.”

In what can only be described as one-way multiculturalism, a Protestant church in Berlin’s Moabit district had vacated its prayer hall to make way for this new mosque.

Prayers at the opening of the Ibn-Rushd-Goethe Mosque in Berlin, Germany on June 16, 2017. Seyran Ates, the mosque’s female imam, is pictured in the second row, wearing a white robe. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

However, the media-driven PR campaign backfired, as the news of the opening of the Berlin ‘liberal mosque’ reached Muslim communities in Germany and abroad. The liberal utopian dream quickly turned into an Islamist nightmare. Islamic fanatics from near and far started flooding the Berlin mosque with death threats. Al-Azhar University in Cairo, the foremost authority on Sunni Islam, issued a fatwa forbidding the ‘liberal mosque.’

The British newspaper The Guardian reported:

[The mosque’s Imam Ates] said she had received “300 emails per day encouraging me to carry on”, including from as far away as Australia and Algeria, but also “3,000 emails a day full of hate”, some of them including death threats.

Egypt’s Dar al-Ifta al-Masriyyah, a state-run Islamic institution assigned to issue religious edicts, issued a statement on Monday declaring that the Ibn Rushd-Goethe mosque’s practice of men and women praying side by side was incompatible with Islam, while the legal department of Egypt’s al-Azhar university reacted to news from Berlin with a fatwa on the foundation of liberal mosques per se.

After countless death threats, the newspapers reached out to Aiman Mazyek, head of the Central Council of Muslims. He shrugged his shoulders and said there were 2100 mosques in Germany and he “doesn’t need to comment on each and every one of them.” As the Berlin-based newspaper Der Tagesspiegel reported this week, the ‘liberal’
Mosque’s Iman was finally granted “around-the-clock heightened police protection.”

Within days, this was the second establishment-backed project devised to spruce up the image of Islam in Germany, to go up in flames.

Recently, after dragging its feet for years, the Central Council of Muslims in Germany had agreed to call a march against Islamist terror. The Muslim organization boasted 10,000 registered participants for the “Not with us — Muslims and friends against violence and terror” rally, scheduled for June 17 in Cologne. On the much awaited day, only a few hundred people turned up, many of them ordinary Germans flanked by a huge media entourage. “Many Turkish weddings are larger than this demonstration,” wrote Robin Alexander, columnist in Die Welt.

Germany’s largest Islamic organization, the Turkish-Islamic Union for Religious Affairs, DITIB, decided to skip the anti-terror demonstration. DITIB stated that Muslims fasting in Ramadan cannot be expected to “march and demonstrate for hours.” DITIB controls about 900 mosques in Germany and has 800,000 members.

The German daily, Die Welt, reported on DITIB General Secretary Bekir Alboga’s stated reason behind their withdrawal from the anti-terror march:

“We Muslims are striving to feel the spirituality of the special month that gives us power for the rest of the year.” Through the daily Quran recitation, fasting and helping the needy — in addition to the physical exertion from such a demonstration — political initiatives such as the planned anti-terrorism march are minimized during Ramadan.

“Had we been informed early enough about the rally and its date we would have suggested planning it for after the Ramadan and roping in other Muslim — and also non-Muslim organizations — because international terrorism should not be depicted as a problem belonging to Muslims alone.”

DITIB evidently did not want to divert fasting Muslims away from their spiritual pursuits, but it had no problem using its mosques and preachers to spy in Germany on behalf of Turkey’s Erdogan regime. In January, DITIB officials admitted that their preachers acted as informants for the Turkish regime.

This is not the first time in Germany that Muslim leaders thwarted an “anti-terror march”. The so-called “vigil of Muslims” at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, after the Islamist terror attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January 2015, was also apparently a disappointment. As it turned out, the “vigil” was not even “Muslim”. It had been financed and stage-managed from the chancellery of Angela Merkel. As Die Welt revealed:

“That time, too, painfully few Muslims turned out. It later emerged that that Muslim organizations only called the vigil after the initiative of a staffer from Chancellor’s office and gentle pressure from the Minister of Interior. The expenses of the ‘Muslim vigil’ were borne by the Christian Democratic and Social Democratic Parties.”

Why do Muslim organizations in Germany fail to mobilize within their communities and denounce Islamist terrorism? Because, if there really is a belief that “international terrorism should not be depicted as a problem belonging to Muslims alone” this view seems to indicate that, in general, Muslims do not see it as their problem.

The Turkish-Islamic organization DITIB would, it seems, prefer to see Christian, Hindu and Jewish organizations address the non-existent problem of terrorism within their communities, than to address the real issue of radicalization of youth within its own congregations or the recruitment by Islamists insides its mosques.

Do not, however, expect the German state to make the Muslim leadership responsible for its failings. The Merkel government continues to hand over millions of euros to DITIB despite what critics regard as behavior that is “unacceptable.”

These stage-managed campaigns to fix the image of Islam in Germany come at an interesting time. With less than three months until the German general election, Chancellor Merkel’s government, with her career at stake, is probably hesitant to take on Islamic organizations with ability to mobilize the “Muslim vote”. Last year’s state election in Berlin already saw such a mobilization.

The September election will effectively be a referendum on Merkel’s “open door” migrant policy. The media’s peddling the liberal, gentler Islam will definitely help ease the German voters’ anxiety, given the ongoing demographic transformation of the country in the wake of the continued mass-migration from Arab and Muslim countries.

Merkel and Germany’s establishment have their ground game covered ahead of the election, and know full well where their political interests lie. The question is, do the German voters know where their best interests lie?

Vijeta Uniyal, a journalist and news analyst, is based in Germany.

Germany: Police Powerless Against Middle Eastern Crime Gangs

June 18, 2017

Germany: Police Powerless Against Middle Eastern Crime Gangs, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, June 18, 2017

Observers have surmised that the real reason for the judge’s leniency was that he feared his family might be subjected to retribution from the clan.

“In their concept of masculinity, only power and force matter; if someone is humane and civil, this is considered a weakness. In clan structures, in tribal culture everywhere in the world, ethics are confined to the clan itself. Everything outside the clan is enemy territory.” — Ralph Ghadban, Lebanese-German political scientist and leading expert on Middle Eastern clans in Germany.

“The state promotes organized crime with taxpayer money.” — Tom Schreiber, a member of the Berlin House of Deputies.

A court in Hanover has handed suspended sentences to six members of a Kurdish clan who seriously wounded two dozen police officers during a violent rampage in Hameln. The court’s ruling was greeted with anger and derision by police who said it is yet another example of the laxity of Germany’s politically correct judicial system.

The case goes back to January 2014, when a 26-year-old clan member, arrested for robbery, tried to escape from the magistrate’s office by jumping out of a seventh-floor courtroom window. The suspect was taken to the hospital, where he died. Members of his clan subsequently ransacked the hospital, as well as the court, and attacked police with rocks and other projectiles; 24 police officers and six paramedics were injured.

The judge said he was lenient because the defendants witnessed the death of the 26-year-old and were traumatized. The judge also revealed that he had reached a deal with the clan, which among other effects prevented police from testifying in court.

Dietmar Schilff, chairman of the GdP police union in Lower Saxony, said that the ruling had left many police officers shaking their heads in disbelief: “All police forces expect protection and support from the state.” He added:

“If we want to protect those who ensure public security, it must be clear that anyone who attacks police officers attacks the state — and has to fear appropriate consequences. It does not matter from which milieu the perpetrators come.”

Observers have surmised that the real reason for the judge’s leniency was that he feared his family might be subjected to retribution from the clan.

Middle Eastern crime syndicates have established themselves across Germany, where they engage in racketeering, extortion, money laundering, pimping and trafficking in humans, weapons and drugs.

The syndicates, which are run by large clans with origins in Lebanon, Turkey, Syria, among other places, operate with virtual impunity because German judges and prosecutors are unable or unwilling to stop them.

The clans — some of which migrated to Germany during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war and have grown to thousands of members — now control large swathes of German cities and towns — areas that are effectively lawless and which German police increasingly fear to approach.

Ralph Ghadban, a Lebanese-German political scientist and a leading expert on Middle Eastern clans in Germany, said that the Hanover ruling was a massive failure of the German judicial system. He added that the only way for Germany to achieve control over the clans is to destroy them:

“In their concept of masculinity, only power and force matter; if someone is humane and civil, this is considered a weakness. In clan structures, in tribal culture everywhere in the world, ethics are confined to the clan itself. Everything outside the clan is enemy territory.”

In an interview with Focus, Ghadban elaborated:

“I have been following this trend for years. The clans now feel so strong that they are attacking the authority of the state and the police. They have nothing but contempt for the judiciary…. The main problem in dealing with clans: state institutions give no resistance. This makes the families more and more aggressive — they simply have no respect for the authorities….

“The state must destroy the clan structures. Strong and well-trained police officers must be respected on the street. It is a poor example if clan members are allowed seriously to injure 24 policemen and six others without having to fear real consequences. In addition, lawyers and judges must be trained. The courts are issuing feeble judgments based on a false understanding of multiculturalism and the fear of the stigma of being branded as racist….

“The clans adhere to a religious group, a kind of sect with an Islamic orientation. The Islamic understanding of their spiritual leader, Sheikh al-Habashi, who died a few years ago, justifies violence against unbelievers. He taught that there is only the house of ​​war [Dar al-Harb], which justifies plundering unbelievers and possessing their wives….”

In Berlin, a dozen or more Lebanese clans dominate organized crime in the German capital, according to Die Welt. They effectively control the districts of Charlottenburg, Kreuzberg, Moabit, Neukölln and Wedding. The clans are committed to counterfeiting, dealing in drugs, robbing banks and burglarizing department stores. Experts estimate that around 9,000 people in Berlin are members of clans.

The clans reject the authority of the German state. Instead, they run a “parallel justice system” in which disputes are resolved among themselves with mediators from other crime families. A classified police report leaked to Bild described how the clans use cash payments and threats of violence to influence witnesses whenever German police or prosecutors get involved.

(Photo by Carsten Koall/Getty Images)

The clans are now canvassing refugee shelters in search of young and physically strong men to join their ranks. State Prosecutor Sjors Kamstra explained:

“The refugees come here with no money. They are shown how inexpensive money can be obtained very quickly. Poverty makes this seductive. Many of them cannot speak German and are naturally vulnerable when they are addressed by someone in their native language. For the clans, the refugees are welcome newcomers, because they are new here and are not known to the police.”

The clans have also entered the refugee business by buying real estate and renting those properties to asylum seekers at exorbitant prices. Focus magazine reported that they are laundering dirty money while at the same time getting paid by the German state to house migrants.

Focus reporters visited a dilapidated apartment in Berlin in which five Syrian refugees were accommodated in 20 square meters (215 square feet). On the regular rental market the apartment would barely have yielded €300 ($335) a month in rent, but the clan collects around €3,700 ($4,125) per month from the German state, which pays landlords to house migrants. “Business with the refugees is now more profitable than drug trafficking,” said Heinz Buschkowsky, a former mayor of Neukölln.

The Berlin Criminal Police Office (Landeskriminalamt) confirmed that “proceeds from criminal offenses, including organized crime, were invested in real estate by the persons concerned or by third parties.” Tom Schreiber, a member of the Berlin House of Deputies, said the clans have exposed the moral bankruptcy of the German government: “The state promotes organized crime with taxpayer money.”

“Berlin is lost,” said Michael Kuhr, a well-known Berlin-based security consultant. “These clan structures have established themselves in all areas of organized crime. We will never go back to how things were 20 years ago. In addition, these people are highly dangerous and have lost all respect for the power of the state.”

In Duisburg, a leaked police report revealed that in the Marxloh district, the streets are effectively controlled by Lebanese clans that reject the authority of German police. They have taken over entire streets to carry out illegal business activity. New migrants from Bulgaria and Romania are contributing to the problems. Marxloh’s streets serve as invisible boundaries between ethnic groups, according to Die Welt. Residents speak of “the Kurdish road” or “the Romanian road.”

Police say they are alarmed by the aggressiveness and brutality of the clans, which are said to view crime as leisure activity. If police dare to intervene, hundreds of clan members are mobilized to confront the police. A local woman interviewed by Deutschlandfunk radio said she was afraid for her safety: “After dark I would not stand here because there are a lot of conflicts between foreigners, especially between Lebanese and Turks.”

A 17-page report prepared for the state parliament in North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) revealed that Lebanese clans in Duisburg divide up neighborhoods in order to pursue criminal activities. These clans do not recognize the authority of the police. Their members are males between the ages of 15 and 25 and “nearly 100%” of them are known to police.

The report also described the situation in Duisburg’s Laar district, where two large Lebanese families call the shots: “The streets are actually regarded as a separate territory. Outsiders are physically assaulted, robbed and harassed. Experience shows that the Lebanese clans can mobilize several hundred people in a very short period of time by means of a telephone call.”

Peter Biesenbach of the Christian Democrats (CDU) said: “If this is not a no-go area, then I do not know what is.” He has called for an official inquiry to determine the true scope of the criminal clans in NRW.

NRW Interior Minister Ralf Jäger rejected that request because such a study would be politically incorrect:

“Further data collection is not legally permissible. Both internally and externally, any classification that could be used to depreciate human beings must be avoided. In this respect, the use of the term ‘family clan’ (Familienclan) is forbidden from the police point of view.”

In nearby Gelsenkirchen, Kurdish and Lebanese clans are vying for control of city streets, some of which have become zones that are off-limits to German authorities. In one incident, police were patrolling an area in the southern part of the city when they were suddenly surrounded and physically assaulted by more than 60 members of a clan.

In another incident, two police officers stopped a driver after he ran a red light. The driver stepped out of the car and ran away. When police caught up with him, they were confronted by more than 50 clan members. A 15-year-old attacked a policeman from behind and strangled him to the point of unconsciousness.

Senior members of the Gelsenkirchen police department subsequently held a secret meeting with representatives of three Arab clans in order to “cultivate social peace between Germans and Lebanese.” A leaked police report revealed that the clans told Police Chief Ralf Feldmann that “the police cannot win a war with the Lebanese because we outnumber them.” The clan members added: “This applies to all of Gelsenkirchen, if we so choose.”

When Feldman countered that he would dispatch police reinforcements to disrupt their activities, the clan members laughed in his face and said: “The government does not have enough money to deploy the numbers of police necessary to confront the Lebanese.” The police report concluded that German authorities should not harbor any illusions about the actual balance of power: “The police would be defeated.”

Another leaked police report revealed that the clans are the “executive body of an existing parallel legal system to self-adjudicate matters between large Kurdish and Lebanese families in the western Ruhr area.” These clans “despise the police and German courts” and “settle their matters on their own terms.”

The Frankfurter Neue Presse reported that Kurdish, Lebanese and Romanian clans have divided up the Gelsenkirchen districts of Bismarck, Rotthausen and Ückendorf, including around the central station, and have “claimed individual streets for themselves.”

Arnold Plickert, the head of the police union in North Rhine-Westphalia, warned: “Several rival rocker groups, as well as Lebanese, Turkish, Romanian and Bulgarian clans, are fighting for supremacy of the streets. They make their own rules; the police have nothing more to say.”

In Düsseldorf, two members of a clan brutally assaulted a 49-year-old woman who witnessed a car accident in the Flingern district. Her mistake, apparently, was to corroborate the “wrong” version of what she saw. The Rheinische Post called on the German government to fight the clans:

“The threat remains, in particular wherever large families, mostly immigrants, place the supposed need for the protection of their loved ones above all else. The readiness for violence is great, the inhibition threshold is low. The punishment of existing laws hardly deters anyone.”

In Naumburg, police confiscated the driver’s license of Ahmed A., a 21-year-old member of a Syrian clan, during a traffic stop. Almost immediately, police were surrounded by a mob of other clan members. The police retreated. The mob then marched to the police station, which they proceeded to ransack.

Ahmed A., a serial offender whose asylum application was rejected but who remains in Germany, said: “Lock me up. I have nothing to lose. I am going to put a bullet in the head of every single police officer. I will make your life feel like hell. Then I’ll just be a cop killer.” He also warned the police officer who seized his license: “I will destroy his life. I know exactly where he lives.” He then explained what he would do to the officer’s wife and daughter. Ahmed A. was allowed to walk free; police said there were insufficient grounds for his arrest.

Naumburg police have defended their weak response as being due to a lack of personnel, but regional parliamentarian Daniel Sturm pointed to the big picture: “We are talking about resistance to the power of the state.” The Interior Minister of Saxony-Anhalt, Holger Stahlknecht, said that it appeared as though the Syrian clan had established a “parallel society” in Naumburg. A local newspaper noted that the police’s failure to act “sounds like the capitulation of the state of law (Rechtsstaat).”

In Mülheim, around 80 members of two rival clans got into a mass brawl following a dispute between two teenagers. When police arrived, they were attacked with bottles and stones. More than 100 police backed up by helicopters were deployed to restore order. Five people were taken into custody but then released.

In Munich, police arrested 20 female members of a Croatian clan believed to be responsible for up to 20% of all the burglaries committed in Germany. Investigators believe that the clan has at least 500 members throughout Germany.

In Bremen, police effectively surrendered to clans from Kurdistan and the Balkans because of the need to conserve limited personnel resources for the fight against spiraling street crime by migrant youths.

Rainer Wendt, head of the German Police Union (DPolG), criticized city officials for their lack of resolve. “Bremen has capitulated to extremely dangerous clans. The state’s monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force [Gewaltmonopol des Staates] is now becoming the law of the jungle. Security continues to go down the drain.”

Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants

May 14, 2017

Germany Confiscating Homes to Use for Migrants, Gatestone InstituteSoeren Kern, May 14, 2017

(It’s like watching a corpse rot. Perhaps it’s time to bury it. — DM)

In an unprecedented move, Hamburg authorities confiscated six residential units in the Hamm district near the city center. A trustee appointed by the city is now renovating the properties and will rent them — against the will of the owner — to tenants chosen by the city. District spokeswoman Sorina Weiland said that all renovation costs will be billed to the owner of the properties.

Similar expropriation measures have been proposed in Berlin, the German capital, but abandoned because they were deemed unconstitutional.

Some Germans are asking what is next: Will authorities now limit the maximum amount of living space per person, and force those with large apartments to share them with strangers?

Authorities in Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, have begun confiscating private dwellings to ease a housing shortage — one that has been acutely exacerbated by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s decision to allow more than two million migrants into the country in recent years.

City officials have been seizing commercial properties and converting them into migrant shelters since late 2015, when Merkel opened German borders to hundreds of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Now, however, the city is expropriating residential property units owned by private citizens.

In an unprecedented move, Hamburg authorities recently confiscated six residential units in the Hamm district near the city center. The units, which are owned by a private landlord, are in need of repair and have been vacant since 2012. A trustee appointed by the city is now renovating the properties and will rent them — against the will of the owner — to tenants chosen by the city. District spokeswoman Sorina Weiland said that all renovation costs will be billed to the owner of the properties.

The expropriation is authorized by the Hamburg Housing Protection Act (Hamburger Wohnraumschutzgesetz), a 1982 law that was updated by the city’s Socialist government in May 2013 to enable the city to seize any residential property unit that has been vacant for more than four months.

The forced lease, the first of its kind in Germany, is said to be aimed at pressuring the owners of other vacant residences in the city to make them available for rent. Of the 700,000 rental units in Hamburg, somewhere between 1,000 and 5,000 (less than one percent) are believed to be vacant, according an estimate by the Hamburg Senate.

HAMBURG, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 15: A view of the city of Hamburg with the ‘St. Michaelis Church’ on February 15, 2017 in Hamburg, Germany.  (Photo by Morris MacMatzen/Getty Images)

Socialists and Greens in Hamburg recently established a “hotline” where local residents can report vacant properties. Activists have also created a website — Leerstandsmelder (Vacancy Detector) — to identify unoccupied real estate in Hamburg and other German cities.

It remains unclear why the landlord in Hamm left his apartments vacant for more than five years. Some have posited that, given the location of the properties, the renovation costs may have been too high and probably would not have been offset by the rental income.

Others are blaming city officials for not approving more building permits to allow for the construction of new residential units. A study conducted in 2012 — well before the migrant crisis reached epic proportions — forecast that by 2017, Hamburg would have a deficit of at least 50,000 rental properties.

In 2016, however, only 2,433 new residential units came onto the market, while only 2,290 new building permits were approved, according to statistics provided by the City of Hamburg. These numbers were up slightly from 2,192 new units and 2,041 new permit approvals in 2015.

In 2012, Hamburg’s Socialist government presented a plan to build 6,000 new residential units per year. The plan never materialized, however, because prospective builders were constricted by government-imposed rental caps which would have made it impossible for them to even recover their construction costs.

Since then, the city has turned to seizing private property to resolve its self-inflicted housing crisis.

On October 1, 2015, the Hamburg Parliament (Hamburgische Bürgerschaft) approved a new law that allows the city to seize vacant commercial real estate (office buildings and land) and use it to house migrants.

City officials said the measure was necessary because, at the time, more than 400 new migrants were arriving in Hamburg each day and all the existing refugee shelters were full. They said that because the owners of vacant real estate refused to make their property available to the city on a voluntary basis, the city should be given the right to take it by force.

The measure was applauded by those on the left of the political spectrum. “We are doing everything we can to ensure that the refugees are not homeless during the coming winter,” said Senator Till Steffen of the Green Party. “For this reason, we need to use vacant commercial properties.”

Others have argued that efforts by the state to seize private property are autocratic and reek of Communism. “The proposed confiscation of private land and buildings is a massive attack on the property rights of the citizens of Hamburg,” said André Trepoll of the center-right Christian Democratic Union (CDU). “It amounts to an expropriation by the state.” He said the proposed measure is a “law of intimidation” that amounts to a “political dam-break with far-reaching implications.” He added: “The ends do not justify any and all means.”

Katja Suding, the leader of the Free Democrats (FDP) in Hamburg, said that the proposed law is an “unacceptable crossing of red lines… Such coercive measures will only fuel resentment against refugees.”

Similar expropriation measures have been proposed in Berlin, the German capital, but abandoned because they were deemed unconstitutional.

In November 2015, lawmakers in Berlin considered emergency legislation that would have allowed local authorities to seize private residences to accommodate asylum seekers. The proposal would have authorized police forcibly to enter private homes and apartments without a warrant to determine their suitability as housing for refugees and migrants.

The legislation, proposed by Berlin Mayor Michael Müller of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), would have amended Section 36 of Berlin’s Public Order and Safety Law (Allgemeine Gesetz zum Schutz der öffentlichen Sicherheit und Ordnung, ASOG), which currently allows police to enter private residences only in extreme instances, to “avert acute threats,” that is, to fight serious crime. Müller wanted to expand the scope for warrantless inspections to include “preventing homelessness.”

The proposal was kept secret from the public until the leader of the Free Democrats (FDP) in Berlin, Sebastian Czaja, warned the measure would violate the German constitution. He said:

“The plans of the Berlin Senate to requisition residential and commercial property without the consent of the owner to accommodate refugees is an open breach of the constitution. The attempt by the Senate to undermine the constitutional right to property and the inviolability of the home must be resolutely opposed.”

Since then, both the mayor’s office and the Senate appear to have abandoned their plans.

Following an investigation, Gunnar Schupelius, a columnist with the Berlin newspaper BZ, wrote:

“A strange report made the rounds at the weekend: The Senate would authorize the police to enter private homes to house refugees, even against the will of the owner. I thought it was only satire, then a misunderstanding, because the Basic Law, Article 13, states: ‘The home is inviolable.’

“So I went on a search for the source of this strange report and found it. There is a ‘proposal’ which the Senate Chancellery (Senatskanzlei) has apparently circulated among the senators. The Senate Chancellery is another name for the mayor’s office. The permanent secretary is Björn Böhning (SPD)…

“The proposal is clear: The police can enter private property without a court order in order to search for housing for refugees when these are threatened with homelessness. You can do that ‘without the consent of the owner.’ And not only should the police be allowed to do this, but also the regulatory agencies.

“This delicate ‘proposal’ attracted little public attention. Only Berlin FDP General Secretary Sebastian Czaja spoke up and warned of an ‘open preparation for breach of the constitution.’ Internally, there should have been protests. The ‘proposal’ suddenly disappeared from the table. Is it completely gone or will it return?”

It remains unclear why no one has challenged the constitutionality of Hamburg’s expropriation law.

Meanwhile, some Germans are asking what is next: Will authorities now limit the maximum amount of living space per person, and force those with large apartments to share them with strangers?